I have mice. Am I filthy and should I be ashamed?
Absolutely not! Mice find their way into homes based on many factors. We've seen rodents in homes of all sizes, ages, and locations. High dollar homes and immaculate homes can have mice and rats. Basically, rodents are taking advantage of a vulnerability. Following the path of least resistance, they found their way to your home and it was easy enough for them at the moment to get inside. Once inside, they don't have much reason to leave- until we insist! Mice are also not filthy themselves. Any animal who lives in a confined, unnatural space with no litter box will build up feces and "filth." That said, wild animals can carry pathogens different from and potentially harmful to humans.
What attracts mice into my home?
Mice are looking for habitat so find access by detecting warm or cool air flow. Vents where the home is designed to breathe- or tiny gaps left around wires, pipes, and air conditioning units- provide entry. Most homes are not built to account for the wildlife of the area. Food is another attraction. Making food sources inaccessible helps keep your home from being extra attractive. Pet feed and bird seed are very enticing. Storing pet food in metal bins with tight-fitting lids helps keep mice from exploring the porch or home. Storing your own food in glass or metal is a good idea (even non-ready-made food like pasta and rice).
How do I keep mice out of my home?
The main line of defense, as with all wildlife getting in the home, is to fortify the perimeter. This means focusing on the crawlspace or foundation wall as well as the roofline and any vents on the siding and roof that allow access. Once past the exterior wall, mice and other animals such as raccoons can travel throughout the home- through the subfloor, up and down the walls, into the ceilings and into the living spaces. Depending on the circumstances, we can do secondary work to seal interior gaps in cabinets, the subfloor and elsewhere.
Prevention: does my home just need to be wrapped in hardware cloth and chicken wire?
Nope! Mice can be tricky due to their size but we target crevices and edges, the places rodents excavate. We follow the principle of “Make it invisible. If you can’t make it invisible, make it pretty!” Any material or device installed is done with aesthetics in mind and can be painted to blend in with the home.
What’s the harm in using some poison or sticky traps?
Many people do use poison. This has a larger ecological impact than the “target animal," however. Mice are an important food source for many creatures, especially birds of prey. The number of owls, hawks, and eagles killed by rodenticides each year in North Carolina or the US at large is not clearly documented. Another untold number are weakened by poison accumulating in their systems and it's not fully understood how this can affect bloodlines. Rodenticides (chemicals made to kill mice and rats) also kill cats, dogs, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, snakes and many other animals who catch rodents or who simply come in contact with the poison. Scavengers then eat those contaminated carcasses and the harm continues. The Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts found rodenticide in 86% of the raptor livers examined back in 2011.
For the target animals themselves, the rodents, it can take up to 4 days to die. Judging by animals we’ve seen first hand after eating an affected rodent, it is agonizing. It can take a similar length of time for a rodent to dehydrate and die in sticky traps. And if you've seen sticky traps, you know their bodies get twisted and mangled as they struggle, which means more pain. Snap traps, if functioning as designed, offer the quickest death. In most cases we encounter, though, all of what’s described above seems to be unnecessary and avoidable suffering. We’ve come to ask ourselves: why use more force than is needed? Why kill if you don’t have to?
Poisons and traps don’t do anything to keep more mice from getting into your home. You can play whack-a-mole and whack the mole but that doesn’t seal up the hole or reinforce the surface so their friends can’t chew through. Our focus is on identifying and sealing primary access points and secondary vulnerabilities to drastically reduce accessibility of your home.
A Note on "Non-Toxic Poison"
Some companies are offering "less-toxic poisons," which is great only they're essentially just as poisonous, just as toxic as other rodenticides. All the information we can find on bromadiolone for example, one rodenticide being marketed this way, says it still takes the mice several hours to several days to die and allows them to travel. The poison in the systems of affected mice still poses a "moderate" risk to birds of prey and a high risk to predatory mammals. "Alternative rodenticide" and "less-harmful poison" seem like clear oxymorons to us, unfortunately. Check out the National Pesticide Information Center or studies by accredited universities to learn more.
Check out what the Audubon Society has said about rodenticides HERE
Visit Raptors Are The Solution (RATS) HERE
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